The Denver Broncos opened the 2016 season with three team captains. On offense, they voted Pro Bowl wide receiver Demaryius Thomas captain. On defense, Pro Bowl outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. And on special teams, it was fourth-year cornerback Kayvon Webster.
But with eight games now in the books, the Broncos have voted to add three more players as team captains — one for each of phase of the game.
Its usually the mark of a young team when the offensive team captain isn't the quarterback. Trevor Siemian entered the 2016 regular season fresh off of winning a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job.
In just his second year, it didn't make a lot of sense at the time to vote Siemian a captain. He was completely unproven.
Halfway through the season, Siemian has started seven of Denver's eight games. He's 6-1 as a starter.
Siemian has completed 61.7 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,487 yards and eight touchdowns — to just four interceptions. His best game came in Week 3 on the road in Cincinnati, where he eclipsed the 300-yard mark and tossed four touchdowns.
That performance earned him Conference player of the week honors. It seems he's earned the respect of the locker room.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1722934-denver-broncos-in-focus-w... “It’s a tremendous honor for me, it really is," Siemian said. "It means a lot to me to first of all, be a part of this locker room and to know that some guys think of me in that light. A huge honor for me, really excited to be a part of this.”
The naming of Siemian as a midseason captain comes just two days after head coach Gary Kubiak criticized his starting quarterback publicly for the first time. Kubiak didn't rip Siemian, by any means, but he did clearly find some fault in the signal-caller's Week 8 performance. Still, Kubiak seems thrilled the players chose Siemian.
“That’s pretty cool," Kubiak said Wednesday. "To be such a young guy and in his first year of playing, I think it tells him that they want him to lead them, regardless of what year he’s in. He needs to continue to do that and push forward. We have to help him. That’s three good guys that they chose to be a part of the leadership that’s already in place.”
The Broncos emerged from the midway point at 6-2. With two battles with Oakland and Kansas City still on deck, and a bout with New England in Week 15, the Broncos need their young quarterback to improve and help bring some consistency to the offense.
There's no question that T.J. Ward is one of Denver's emotional leaders on defense. His fiery intensity has helped to define the vaunted No Fly Zone.
Ward leads the team in tackles with 52 (42 solo). He's also notched a sack, three forced fumbles, and an interception — a relatively full stat sheet for the halfway point. Ward sees his new captain designation as motivation to continue to execute at a high level.
“I’m of course happy about that," Ward said. "It shows the type of player my teammates see in me, so I guess I’ll just keep doing the things I’m doing.”
Ward is a phenomenal box safety but he has struggled in coverage. Last week vs. San Diego, he was targeted seven times, relinquishing six receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.
The Broncos have struggled to find an answer for guarding opposing tight ends without their matchup safety, and former team captain, David Bruton. Bruton departed via free agency after Super Bowl 50 and now plays in Washington.
Coverage has never been Ward's forte. Hitting and making explosive impact plays have been. As a safety, he's one of the savviest pass rushers in the league and always a threat to wreak havoc on a blitz.
Outside linebacker Dekoda Watson is a relative newcomer to the Broncos, making his new captain calling extraordinary. The seventh-year veteran was a seventh round pick of Tampa Bay back in 2010 and since his rookie deal expired, has bounced around the league. He's spent time with Jacksonville, Dallas, New England and now the Broncos.
“Like I said, I’ve been team-hopping for a while and unfortunately injuries played a great deal of that," Watson said. "To be able to be looked at like that from a Super Bowl team is just truly an honor and a blessing. I just want to continue and show them that they made the right choice and that I appreciate it.”
Watson is a versatile, multi-tool linebacker. He can play inside or outside but he's earned his living in the NFL by excelling on special teams.
We saw him explode on the scene as a Bronco during the preseason, primarily as a pass rusher. He holds a roster spot as Denver's fifth outside linebacker but right now, his biggest impact comes on special teams.
“It’s truly a blessing that the guys would think that much of me," Watson said. "Coming from a different team and the journey that I’ve been on, it’s been truly an honor for them to even think about me and look my way.”
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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